Thursday, 24 December 2015

14 stages of a Christmas Eve Meltdown

1.  Wake up at 4.00 am.  Realise that its Christmas Eve.  Realise also that you still have the final bits of shopping to do.  Arse.

2.  5.30 am Write shopping list.  Dispatch husband to 24 hour Tesco with list.  Sit back and panic a bit relax.  He will get it all, won't he?  Hmm, maybe you should have gone yourself, but he offered (plus it's nice and warm in bed).

3.  6.30 am  Husband returns.  Noises in the kitchen.  Sounds like the house is being burgled.  Shit!  Maybe it is a burglar?  Creep downstairs and nervously look into kitchen.  Nope.  It's the husband attempting a game of fridge Jenga.

4.  Husband announces that he's bought a few extra things including a selection of dips in a tray (why does he always buy those?).  Realise that we have nothing to dip in the dips - it would be a catastrophe if someone wants those tomorrow and there is nothing to dip, what kind of hosts are we?  Dispatch husband again this time to Tesco Express (well, he shouldn't have bought those dips - his problem, he needs to fix it).

5.  7.00 am Husband returns again laden with celery, kettle chips and a bag of salad that might "come in handy".  Oh, also two chocolate oranges which were on offer (but went through the checkout at full price necessitating a 20 minute conversation with the shop assistant about pricing errors in their system/other supermarkets in the area).

6.  Open fridge and stare blankly at the bulging shelves.  Play another game of fridge Jenga by shoving celery on top of some custard where it balances precariously.  Slam door shut before it all falls on your head.

Quick! Shut the door before it all falls on your head...

7.  Open fridge again.  Prod turkey.  It still feels a bit?  Solid.  It will defrost in time won't it?  The back of the packet says 48 hours in the fridge, and it's from M&S who essentially are the saviours of Christmas in this house.  They've never let us down yet.  Nah, it will be fine.

8.  What if they've lied though?  Start composing a letter of complaint in your head, detailing how M&S ruined your Christmas and poisoned your family.  I wonder if they'll send you some form of compensation like a voucher or a hamper?  Maybe just a giant packet of Percy Pigs?  You like those...

9.  Breakfast, with over-excited kids, lunch, with over-excited kids, dinner with over-excited kids.  How the hell are you going to manage this?  Your husband has buggered off to work (smug git, how could he do this to you?) leaving you to scrape the children off the ceiling (and dispose of the empty Advent Calendars - finally!).

10.  Drink coffee.  By the bucket.  Feel a bit manic.  Is that another hot flush?  The day goes by in a blur, and it's raining, so you are essentially trapped in the house with your rabid offspring for the foreseeable (to make matters worse there's no Judge Rinder this week to take your mind off things *sob*).

11.  You can't wait until it's bedtime (for you, let alone the children).  For bedtime to even happen, you need to find the Christmas stockings.  Where did you put them?  Tear every cupboard in the house apart looking for the bastard things until one of the teens points out that they are on the top shelf of your wardrobe.  How do they know that?  Answer:  they've been snooping and not only know the whereabouts of the stockings but also what's inside every present that you've hidden in there. FFS.

12.  Children in bed (mostly - teens refuse until you threaten that they'll get no presents unless they do).  Arms laden with presents, you creep around filling stockings and shoving things under the tree.  Husband "calls it a night" leaving you to work out how to get 48 parcels into a stocking the size of a thimble without dislocating a finger.

13.  You are done.  Consider curling up into a ball and rocking in a corner with the relief of it all, then decide bed is probably better (and warm).  Except, you can't sleep.  Well, you do, but with one eye/ear open so that you can make sure children don't wake up and start unwrapping presents at 12.30 am like they did three years ago.  You feel tired, you can't do this, it's only Christmas, only a roast (except everyone knows it isn't just a roast, it's a roast with your in-laws).  Stressed?  Much?  This is ridiculous!  Just so tire...

14.  You wake up.  Christmas Day.  No, not yet!

But everything is fine.  Perfect even.

The turkey is defrosted, the presents get unwrapped, the family arrive and enjoy their day.

Why did you even worry?

And nobody bothers with the dips/celery/crisps.  Must remember not to buy that next year.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Lunch Apathy

Ahh, the last week of term has finally been and gone. I don't know about you, but I?  

Am utterly exhausted.

For the past few weeks I've been running around collecting children from school play rehearsals, attending nativities, donating raffle prizes, remembering dress down days, watching the three hour long school play, and finally, last Thursday I went to the school Christmas lunch - a lovely chance to spend some time with my children.

You would think though, that as I had left things to the last minute as usual, got one of the last tickets available, my children would have been a bit happier about the whole thing.

So happy to see me...

Don't know why I bother sometimes...


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Twelve days of the School Holidays

Oh Christmas holidays, how I love thee.  At least that's what I've been thinking for the last few weeks of the past term.  Just got to get through all the school plays, raffle donations and dress down days without messing up or forgetting anything...

Aaannnd relax...

Or maybe not.  You see, if you've got any number of children, the school holidays present you with another set of things that you probably don't really want to deal with.  This is particularly true if like me, you are fortunate enough to spend the entire holiday in the company of your children, while your other half has a lucky escape to go to work for some of it.  At the moment I'm just waiting for 5.00 pm on Christmas Eve when my husband finishes work and (to quote High School Musical) we're all in this together, oh yes.

It's made me feel rather musical in fact, so let me welcome you to the twelve days of the School Christmas Holidays...

On the first day of the holidays my children gave to me a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the second day of the holidays my children gave to me two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the third day of the holidays my children gave to me three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the fourth day of the holidays my children gave to me four letters to Santa*, three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the fifth day of the holidays my children gave to me five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the sixth day of the holidays my children gave to me six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the seventh day of the holidays my children gave to me seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the eighth day of the holidays my children gave to me eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the ninth day of the holidays my children gave to me nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the tenth day of the holidays my children gave to me ten pots of mixed up play dough, nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the eleventh day of the holidays my children gave to me eleven lost school jumpers**, ten pots of mixed up play dough, nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the twelfth day of the holidays my children gave to me twelve complete meltdowns***, eleven lost school jumpers, ten pots of mixed up play dough, nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

A mouldy lunch box (with a broken lid), Merry Christmas to me.

My children really are very giving aren't they?  And to think I was looking forward to this.

If only it were just 12 days, there are actually 16 if you include the weekends.  Still, not long until the new term I suppose... lovely, lovely school... *sigh*

*  detailing a completely different list of presents to the ones I've bought *bollocks*
**  found at the bottom of the pre-teen's bed underneath the duvet cover, FFS.
***  mine and theirs combined, given the above that's actually quite a low figure

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Dear Christmas

Dear Christmas

I know you are not a real person, more of a feeling, a season, an event, but I thought that I'd just drop you a line or two regarding some "house rules" before you visit us next week.

The thing is, your arrival seems to turn my family bonkers, for want of a better word, and I'm getting a bit fed up of it.  I feel we need to get a few things straight.

Firstly, can we just agree that you won't ask my children to help decorate the house/tree this year?  I am planning to do that on my own, while they are all at school and I can arrange the lights and baubles just how I like them, in a symmetrical and not at all OCD kind of way, and not all on the same one branch right at the bottom.  You and I both know it will look better that way and avoid the start of WW3 when one twin gets to put the star on the top and the other doesn't.

Also, while we're on the subject of decorations, did you have to get the twins' class to make Yule Logs again?  It would have been OK if they had been the chocolatey eat-me-up kind of logs but no, these are actual logs, covered in tinsel and other glittery shit.  What person in their right mind wants that in their home? I know I'm supposed to like the things my children make for me at school, but in reality?  These logs are, um, grotesque unique (why does nobody understand that I'd like a matching colour scheme this year?).  It seems a bit unfair that I have to pretend to like them and then accidentally lose them before next Christmas, or else be faced with displaying them every year thereafter.  (This is why edible chocolate logs are better you see.)  To make matters worse they come topped with a real candle - fire hazard, much?

Yule Logs (in case anyone was wondering)

Do you always have to bring glitter with you when you visit?  FFS.  The suction from a thousand Dysons could not remove that from my stair carpet, which is lovely as it is, minus the glitter.  It has only been a few weeks since I managed to remove the final of your sparkly traces from last year, so please can you arrive glitter free?  If you must bring anything shiny, can it be tin foil?  I need some for the turkey and think I may have missed it off my ever growing list of things I need to buy but probably don't need. *sigh*

I know you always bring plenty of chocolate.  That's good.  It might be nice if you didn't encourage my children to eat the entire contents of their stockings before breakfast.  One, as I've mentioned before, this makes them bonkers, and two, I have better things to do than clear up chocolate sick on the big day.  Thanks.

The Queen and her speech.  Do we really have to?  I mean really?  Why can't she just upload to YouTube instead, I mean, if it's good enough for Zoella?  At least that way we'd be able to leave the TV off, maybe even have a conversation with one another, rather than being sucked into *that speech* followed by yet another Disney classic (which seems to make grown men feel the need to take a nap rather than doing the washing up).  I'd like that.

Lastly, could you mention to the relatives that just because you've arrived that doesn't mean that we need additional help that is akin to the war effort?  Christmas lunch is just a roast dinner and and extra three guests does not require an all hands to the pump kind of approach with regards to vegetable peeling and table setting.  Also, please let everyone know that frozen sprouts are fine (Marco Pierre White says so) and that they do not ever need to be crossed. Ta.

Other than the above I'm so looking forward to your annual visit.  I see you've left some presents with my name on them in the bottom of the wardrobe but I promise not to peep.

Yours festively

Philippa xxx

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Weeping Windows

You know when you have one of those Pinterest inspired moments when you think if would be a really good idea to make a gingerbread house helped by your children?

No?  Just me then?

In theory it shouldn't have been that difficult, and to begin with it wasn't.  I decided that I'd be in charge of the icing.  The kids were more interested in the sweets and just wanted to decorate the house anyway.

It all started off so nicely...

Yes, that's actual washing hanging up and boxes of Christmas cards
in the background.  #realmumprobs

According to Twin Girl I "aced the roof", but after that the icing bag had been in my hot hands for far too long and the vertical bits started dripping.

Doesn't look too bad here...

Then the kids added some sweets (though not the suggested design on the front of the box).  I am sure my icing wouldn't have ended up looking so bad otherwise.

Let's have a close up of the beautiful windows, shall we?

I am hoping it is edible still.  I have told them they can smash it up and eat it on Friday after school (hopefully the whole lot will be gone by Christmas day!).

Note to self:  Next year buy a ready made one.


Friday, 11 December 2015

Christmas School Run Mum Hacks ('Tis the season to be jolly...)

Or at least jolly disorganised if you are anything like me.

Christmas time at Primary Schools is a massive admin and diary based nightmare in which I often get caught out because I don't own a diary.  Ahem.  In fact, its almost easier to try and remember the days when your kids don't have to bring something, dress as something or participate in something.  I find it all a bit full on. But every year, somehow, we all manage to survive these school shenanigans only for me to go and forget all the relevant dates/requests the following year.

So behold, my guide on how to ace Christmas time end of term madness when you have Primary School aged children without even trying... (but only because I haven't).

Christmas Play Costumes

There is no point in me saying that home made costumes are better.  Everybody knows that shop bought is the way to go.  But what if you forget have a last minute costume dilemma?  What if there is a run on Angels in Asda or Donkeys in Home Bargains?  What if this leaves you in an empty handed panic?

Enter my old friend the Sharpie pen.  You know that Easter bunny headband that lies discarded at the bottom of the dressing up box?  Well, coloured in with the friendly Sharpie and there you have a very bad Donkey costume.  Need and Angel?  Just get some tinsel and wrap your child up thoroughly (honestly, they love it).  This also works well for a Star of Bethlehem or Kings, Queens, basically anything that requires some sparkly shit. #tinselandsharpiesftw

This is going to totally work...

Alternatively just wrap your child up in tinsel

Christmas Play tickets

Ah the eternal dilemma, do you go for the opening night and get it out of the way? Or, the final night by which time even the teachers are so bored that they've edited the four hour long spectacular down to a swift 45 minutes, so that they can get home in time for Eastenders?  There's your answer right there.  Also remember there is no bar. #lastnightisthebestnight

School Christmas Dinner

According to the many pages of school email admin I am supposed to have booked this last week.  I haven't obvs.  And so, there are no more turkey dinners left to be sold (something to do with placing orders with a butcher).  Shame.  This doesn't mean I can dodge sitting on one of those tiny plastic chairs in the school hall to eat dinner with the kids.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, I really rather enjoy doing this.

So, the vegetarian option is the only one left.  This would usually disappoint me but the one main advantage of a roasted vegetable parcel over "turkey" is that it comes fully heated.  I will be smiling as I tuck into my lovely hot meal while other parents shudder as they force down the cold turkey (ham) covered in tepid gravy.  Sometimes being disorganised really does pay off.

Charitable School Donations

Last week was Jam Jar Week. (WTF?) Bring in a jar filled with anything for the school fair.  Anything?  Really? So my husband helpfully suggested "fresh air" and the ten year old added, "What about farts?".  It's a good job one of us is sensible, and I'm absolutely sure the kids didn't mind the fact that there will be no chocolate coins in their stockings because Mummy used them to fill a jam jar for school.

Present for Teacher

A chance to get my own back for all the junk models, millions of scribbles on paper pictures and the bastard class bear that have all made it home to ours.  This is the only time the glitter should come out for crafting activities - the more glittery the better really.  After all, who doesn't love a nice handmade gift?

Just kidding.

You think I've actually got time for all that?  Pahahahaha...

Maybe I'll wish her a Merry Christmas instead.

It's payback time...

There is of course a moral to this tale.  Maybe I'll make it a New Year's resolution in fact.  Something that will give me the ability to be like all the slick well prepared School Rum Mums.  Never flustered, always with the appropriate donation to hand, always on time.  OK, one step at a time...

But next year I fully intend to buy myself a diary.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Message for the tooth fairy

A few weekends ago twin girl discovered that she had her second wobbly tooth.

The scene went something like this:

Twin Girl:  Ooh!  I've got a wobbly tooth!  It's right next to my gap from my other wobbly tooth...  The tooth fairy will come now.

Twin Boy:  That's so great!  Maybe I'll get a wobbly tooth, one day...

Teen Girl:  Oh yes, the tooth fairy.  Do you believe in her?  I hope she doesn't forget *looks at me*

Me:  *looks sternly back*

Because, of course, teen girl was never so uncool as to get excited about a visit from the tooth fairy.  Never.

I happened to be tidying up some things recently and came across the following note.  I can only think that I kept it to remind her that she did once believe (even if the tooth fairy occasionally forgot to leave some money for her).


Friday, 4 December 2015

What my teenager really wants for Christmas

Like most of the Christmas present buying world, as of last week I have been lost in the commercial frenzy known as Black Friday, or is it Cyber Monday?  Yes, I have been Christmas shopping.

This in our house is an arduous task involving lots of lists and coordination with in-laws over who is buying what and where from, and whether anyone is chipping in towards main presents for the kids and what not.  It has nearly broken me, although due to the Internet, I will admit that its a hell of a lot easier these days than when we all had to go around actual shops and stuff.

This year's Christmas shopping chaos was largely started by my husband arriving home from work one evening with a little bag from Paperchase containing four stocking filler sized presents for the twins, after which he lost interest and made me sort out the rest of them moved on to the bigger gifts.

In fairness to him, he's dealt with the bulk of our large Christmas gifts for the kids this year.  I can't fault his enthusiasm, although don't feel too sorry for him, he also managed to acquire a brand new TV and speaker system during this process (I'm still a bit baffled at how he managed to get me to agree, although he did promise to redecorate the living room, which I think is what lawyers call a Compromise Agreement).

But now the present shopping is done, and aside from the teen boy, everyone has been catered for.

But the teen boy?  Does not know what he wants.

Well, he does.  Apparently he wants things that are going to cost me almost absolutely nothing, which sounds amazing but probably isn't.

You would think that given we've told him he just has to name one thing we could buy just for him, he'd be full of new ideas.  But no.

It kind of put me in mind of when people say "ooh kids, they're far happier playing with the cardboard box than the present that comes in it", or something.

Then I thought, wouldn't that be fabulous?  What if you really could get a load of teen suitable presents from stuff that you had lying around or that didn't cost you anything at all.

So, let's examine the list of the stuff that my teenager really wants that will cost me practically nothing (according to him).

1.  Your old mobile phone

Getting an iPhone upgrade this year?  Well then, you my friend have the perfect free present for your teen. As soon as your upgrade email arrives in your inbox, your teen will be circling like a vulture around your current handset.  They just want your old mobile phone.  It doesn't matter if it isn't worth much as long as it is an iPhone (this is the most important thing), because all their friends, their friend's brothers and their friend's brother's six year old cousin's dog all have iPhones and they are the only one without one.  Which is like some kind of social suicide.  If you can't afford a new one for them then your old one will do just fine until they can con you into a new one.

Cost:  Free
Real cost:  A new mobile phone contract for you and an unlimited data and text plan for your teen (but paid for by you, obvs.)

2.  Cash

According to my teen, nothing says I love you or Happy Christmas more than a sizeable bank transfer to their account.  It is also the no effort present option, because you don't have to wrap it, and you have loads of money in the bank because you're an adult (yeah, right...).

Cost:  Nothing because you haven't bought anything (teen logic)
Real cost:  All your hard earned cash which they then will spend on MacDonalds and a shit-load of other useless tat.

3.  Your Widescreen TV

You know that TV that my husband just bought?  Well it didn't take long (about 36 seconds fwiw) for my teen boy to point out that if we moved our existing family TV into his room we could also move all the assorted games consoles in there too.  It would be more peaceful for us and also make it "the best Christmas ever" for him.  Somehow even though he got his own way (his father's son) he still asked the question "so, when you get another new TV in a few more years, can I have the one you've just bought?".  Yes already eyeing up my brand new TV.  Sodding hell, is nothing sacred?

Cost:  Nowt, you already own it.
Real cost:  A new TV every 4 years or thereabouts *sob*

4.  Food

My teen has a Christmas list, a Christmas list with a difference.  For this is a list of things to fill his face with that will make the festive period complete.  When he was little he was happy with some chocolate coins at the bottom of his stocking but now?  Now, he has his sights set on the entire contents of my fridge, cupboards and freezer (usually leaving a trail of crumbs, plates, glasses and packaging in his wake).  The more expensive the better - M&S party food is the main goal but anything in the kitchen is fair game.  And the best bit?  The fairies replenish our cupboards (and also do the cleaning up).  Didn't you know?  Forget the fact that last year I battled round a busy M&S two days before the big day to procure said delights, only to find that a £5 tub of luxury cashew nuts that I was saving had been cruelly devoured in secret (and the empty pot replaced in the cupboard as if untouched).  Nothing left to give to guests with their drinks.  Nothing left to enjoy my bastard well self.  *still bitter*

Cost:  Well, the food's just there isn't it?
Real cost:  £100s - I've always lamented the extortionate cost of our Christmas food shop and now I know the reason why.

5.  My Car

My teens are a few years off learning to drive thank God, but judging by some of our neighbours with older teens, when they hit the magic age of seventeen then the usual thing to do is to give them your own car and then buy yourself a nice new one.  Frighteningly this is probably a good move to a certain extent (well, I've never been good at buying second hand cars and ours does have a full service history of sorts).  So they are going to want my car one day too, aren't they?  *sigh*

Cost:  Just your old car, sitting on the driveway, it isn't as if you even use it Mum.
Real Cost:  Sell a kidney on Ebay to fund the cost of their car insurance for the year/the cost of new car finance.

A "handy" Venn Diagram 

They do say the best things in life are free, but in my case I beg to differ.  I weep for the days I could fob him off with some Duplo or a set of Thomas the Tank Engine books.  Something that had an affordable, fixed cost.

Teens, costing you the earth since well, forever really.  Now, where did I put that cardboard box?

Friday, 27 November 2015

Music to Parent to

So last Saturday I found myself with four whole hours of solitary peace and quiet to fill, while I winged my way down to London on the train.

But, how to keep myself occupied?  Read?  Tweet?  Possibly.  But what I really relish these days is being able to listen to music on my headphones without being interrupted every five minutes by a child.  It's quite a rare thing for me.

I'm getting back into the habit of listening to music just lately.  Especially to break up the monotony of the day, like when I'm running, or ironing or whatever. (Probably just running or ironing to be honest - such is the complete lack of excitement in my life right now), but even that isn't the same as just being able to listen without one eye on the clock or the road or a child.

The teens do the eye-roll thing every time we watch the X Factor and I exclaim "ooh, I could buy that and listen to it when I run/iron".

"No Mum, just stream it on Spotify or YouTube, don't pay for it."

*mind blown*

They will never know the pain and frustration of having to save up the money earned on a paper round for an entire month, and then hot foot it (or hot bus it) into town to the local Our Price to buy an album.  They just don't understand how easy they've got it nowadays.

But what's more, is not only have I started to do just that (the streaming thing, which is like some kind of modern day magic if you ask me), but, via the medium of Apple Music, my phone has even started suggesting music for me to listen to (the staff in Our Price never did that).

The other day it was this:

Oh Apple Music, do you really know me at all?

To which my husband helpfully commented, "don't they have a 'Music to burn things to' playlist?"


But come to think of it, while there are playlists available for all kinds of activities, there are still a few missing.  And why is there nothing specifically for us parents, to break up the tedium of looking after the small people all day?  It's an untapped market, I tell you.

So as I was scrolling through trying to choose something suitable for the train journey, I made one.

Music to Parent to - a playlist for people with children.

Sam Smith, Writing's on the Wall - and the sofa, the carpet, the dining room table legs (why does biro never come off?)

Little Mix, Black Magic - Mmmm, chocolate... (not sharing it)

KDA, Turn the Music Louder - until I can't hear the sound of whinging children any more

Oasis, Half the World Away - yup, that's bedtime! (only another six hours *sigh*)

Rachel Platten, Fight Song - room sharing for siblings

James Bay, Hold Back the River - we're potty training (again)

One Direction, Drag Me Down - Drag me down the big slide at soft play, drag me down the sweetie aisle in Tesco, drag me down the stairs at 6.30 am on a weekend...

Jess Glynne, Hold My Hand - while we cross the road.  No you can't walk by yourself, you are still too little to cross on your own.

Taylor Swift, Shake It Off - your shoe, honestly I told you to watch where you were walking!

Justin Bieber, What Do You Mean? - You know I can't understand a word you are saying while you are having a tantrum...

What's the betting that even if such things did exist, nobody would be able to listen to them without being interrupted by "Mum, mum, mum, mum!" or "can you get me a drink?" and the universally acclaimed "What's for dinnerrrr?"

Maybe it's a market best left untapped after all.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Drink more water with Infruition!

I'm always nagging my children to drink more water and stay away from the juice and fizzy drinks.

But, from their point of view it isn't that easy, after all juice and fizzy drinks = exciting and water = boring.

They have a point.

So when Infruition approached me a few weeks ago and asked if we'd be interested in trying out their new Infruition Kids water bottles I was sceptical to say the least.

Could something as simple as a water bottle really make my kids stop reaching for the orange squash and take to drinking water instead?

So, we decided to give them a whirl.

Each child chose a different colour - the biggest three children had the standard Infruition Sports bottles and my six year old twins had a bottle each from the new Infruition Kids range.

So, what's different about Infruition compared to other water bottles?

The bottles are like any standard reusable water bottle to look at, but the main difference is that attached to the lid inside there is a removable chamber in which you can put fruit, veg, tea and herbs - really anything you want to flavour your water with.  Your chosen flavour then infuses with the water in the main bottle through narrow holes in the chamber to turn water into, well, something more interesting!

Infruition Kids bottle, lid and chamber

Infruition Kids carrying handle

The bottles have a flip top lid which is leak proof too.  A few times they were left on their side on the furniture in the living room (where I don't usually allow drinks) and the water remained inside the closed bottle.  There is also a handle on the top of the lid for carrying which we really liked.

Once I'd explained how the bottles worked to my kids they were raring to get going with making up their own combinations to try.

We started with what we had left in the fruit bowl - a major advantage of these bottles if you ask me, as I can use up any left over fruit that hasn't gone into the lunch boxes over the course of the week.  After trying Apple and Strawberry, Lemon and Lime, Grapefruit and Orange and even Lemon and Ginger, the children decided that they preferred the taste of the citrus based infusions the best.

Our first fruit infusions!

We were also provided with a small recipe book in addition to which there are recipes on the Infruition website here, but my lot were all happy enough with making up their own drinks.  I may be tempted to try a few of them once they get bored of the current combinations.  I suppose that's another advantage, in that the possibilities for recipes are endless - you can never really get bored then!

Have the bottles actually made them drink more water?

Yes, I suppose they have.

I found it quite easy to make the bottles up with fruit in the mornings and pop them in the fridge for when the children get home.  This means that they tend to reach for them instead of helping themselves to squash.  I also noticed that because they are so convenient my two eldest boys have on occasion used them while they have been plugged into the Xbox of an afternoon.  They wouldn't usually drink anything while gaming, and I do worry that they don't drink enough fluids full stop so this was something of an added bonus.

Teen girl was quite keen to take her bottle to school.  She says she gets thirsty all the time in class and all the school water fountains are spread out too much, so she doesn't often get an opportunity refill her current bottle easily.  The standard Infruition bottle is large holding a whopping 700 ml of water.  Although I worried that it would be a little heavy to carry around, she said it was no bother (what do mums know?) and her water lasted from the start of the day right through to the end.

What about the Infruition Kids bottles, how are they different?

Well, the lids are identical to the Infruition Sports bottle but the bottle itself is not only a smaller kid sized bottle (450 ml) but also comes decorated with really cute patterns.  Twin girl loved hers so much that I'm sure it made her want to use it more.  She kept pointing out all the characters on the bottle to me and was generally very pleased with it.

Decorations on the Infruition Kids bottles

Twin girl had the fruit pattern with a pink lid and twin boy had the forest fox pattern with a blue lid.  I thought both designs were a nice touch to make the whole drinking water thing a bit more fun!

Another thing I like about these bottles is that they are all BPA free and thoroughly safe to drink from.

All in all I have been pleasantly surprised by the Infruition range and we certainly plan on carrying on using them, going forward.  My children still drink the occasional glass of squash at mealtimes but I have definitely noticed that I'm buying less of the stuff now that we're using the Infruition bottles, so they are a winner for me too!

Infruition Kids water bottles are priced at £12.99 each and are available here.  Infruition Sport bottles are also available priced at £15.99 each.

We were sent five bottles from the Infruition range to try for the purpose of this review.  All words and opinions are our own.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Apprentice - Stay at Home Mum Edition

Der, de, der, de, der, der, der, de, der, de, der, de, derrrrr!

We are big fans of The Apprentice here.  I loved this weeks' episode which was filmed up here in the glorious North West (and also can't quite believe that the apprentices thought that Mancunians would go for toilet paper for £3 a pack.  £3!).  #idiots

The best bit is always the boardroom at the end (and I always take a bit of pleasure from making toilet flushing noises as Lord Sugar walks in through the door behind the boardroom table, which never gets old yes I know I'm childish).  Then there's the way the contestants get shouted at for repeatedly getting the tasks all wrong and the arguments about who is the best.

It's a bit like having children really, which set me wondering whether Lord Sugar could be missing a trick.  Maybe he should incorporate some typical mum jobs into one of his tasks?

After all, there are loads of skills us mums have which are similar to those required for a business environment.  Maybe the measure of a true apprentice could be determined in the following ways:

1.  Negotiation Skills

Persuading small children to get ready and go to school
"Just go and clean your teeth and then you can have a go on the iPad"

Getting teenagers to do their homework
"Finish your homework, then you can go on the XBox"

Encouraging husbands to finish the decorating
"Listen, just finish painting the walls in the living room and then I'll let you buy a new TV."

That kind of thing.  It's essentially a technology based carrot and stick strategy.

2.  Teamwork

Taking it in turns with your husband or partner to split up sibling rows, return small children to bed and help with homework.  Or, better still, making it look like teamwork because they are doing all that while you are doing the washing up not really, I'm stuffing my face with biscuits behind the closed kitchen door.

3.  Multitasking

Serving breakfast, making packed lunches, finding lost/clean uniform and signing homework diaries all at the same time and in the space of about half an hour, and all while drinking a hot cup of tea (got to make it a bit tricky).  What does hot tea taste like anyway?

4.  Time keeping 

Getting out of the house on time for the morning school run with three children, and making it to the school gate without having to return for forgotten P.E. kits, musical instruments and book bags.

Yes, I know I have issues with this myself, so I'm hardly one to talk, but two mornings this week I have got there not only on time, but before the actual school doors have even been opened!  Two mornings!

5.  Sales Technique 

"Yes you like this meal, it's delicious, and you've had it before"
"Just three mouthfuls and then you can have pudding"
"Eat just a little bit and I will let you have sweets"

Also known as mealtime bribery and corruption.  Easy when you know how.

6.  Damage Limitation/Managing Expectations

"No you cannot have an iPhone 6s for Christmas"
"School trips to New York are not compulsory/will not make you pass your GCSEs with a better grade"
"Father Christmas cannot actually give you Stampy Longnose"

Honestly, it's non stop some days.

Now I come to think about it, Lord Sugar could just cut the middle man completely out of the process by hiring a mum.  And as it happens, I know one who's currently considering a career change.  Maybe he should give me a call...

I bet he would never let me drink a hot cup of tea in peace though.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Extreme sleep positions for beginners...

It never fails to amaze me how children can sleep almost anywhere when they feel like it.  

Twin girl is a master at this, but I did think that by the time she turned six she might have grown out of falling asleep in odd positions/places.  Her twin brother always goes and tucks himself into bed if he feels tired, which is far more sensible (and means that I also get the sofa to myself).

After a particularly heavy week at school (apparently Year 1 is really tough) I found her like this on the sofa one Saturday afternoon.  How she didn't slide off I have no idea.

Of course, she stayed up for ages that night, but that's another issue for another blog post. *sigh*


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ten unwritten rules of the school run

Standing in the school playground for the umpteenth time, waiting for one of my children to prize themselves away from the climbing frame so that we could go home (the other two were helpfully quite eager to get home too for a change), I was reminded how the school run never really changes.

Yes, OK very clever, but can we GO HOME now?

No matter how much you love loathe endure the daily process of dropping off and picking up children from school, there is always a little bit of it that gets on your nerves, or is that just me?

It's like Groundhog Day.  I can practically predict everything before I get inside the gate these days.  Here are ten inevitabilities that having do do the school run brings.

  1. It always rains at 3.00 pm.  Always.  If you take an umbrella or waterproof coat, it will be wall to wall sunshine.
  2. If one child comes out of school on time, then the other/s will be late.  You will wait there for hours for them and it will rain.
  3. If you happen to be on foot then something heavy/a junk model will need to be carried home, by you.  The kids will skip home and you will be knackered, sweating and struggling with PE kits/musical instruments/all the bags.  FML.
  4. You will have forgotten the baking money/school trip money that you promised the teacher in the morning.  Again. #memorylikeasieve
  5. If your kids are tired and grumpy at the end of the school day, everyone else's will be perfectly behaved.  And, if you are even remotely on the edge of losing it with your grumpy child/children, everyone will see and tut.  #alleyesonyou
  6. You can never park even vaguely close to the school gate. How do other parents always get the best spaces?  Do they camp out overnight or something?
  7. If your child has done baking that day then the baked goods will be eaten by the time you get home.  I have never tasted any of their baking yet.  This is probably a good thing, but it would be nice to be given the choice.
  8. When the teacher decides to let the class out on time then you will always be late.  And when you are on time?  The teacher will hold them back for no reason.  The latter will only ever happen in the middle of winter when the outside temperature is about minus two.
  9. The PTA will accost unsuspecting parents for money by setting up stalls selling stuff in the playground (ice lollies in summer, tuck shop the rest of the time).  It's a trap! (OK, I know it's for a good cause but still)  No parent can avoid the whining of a child that doesn't get a lolly when all their friends have one.  And woe betide the mum with no money in her purse. It's always me.
  10. A successfully completed school run always results in one child realising that they have lost or left something at school on your eventual return home.  This can be anything from a toy (which you told them not to take into school in the first place), a brand new school jumper or their pants (truth, it happened to us once).

No matter how pretty I try to make it look, doing the school run is still tedious

I have unwittingly signed myself up to several more years of this frustration by the very nature of having had more children.  I never learn.  But would it be too much to ask for a patio heater and a branch of Costa in the school grounds this winter, to cheer me a little on the endless wait to get my children back?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Worst family day out ever...

I was struggling a bit for this week's Wicked Wednesdays post, mainly because the only annoying/funny thing that has happened this week in our house was that the curtain pole in the living room fell down due to DH's substandard DIY skills.  It wasn't a good photo though.  Messy, yes, funny, not so much.

So instead I decided to trawl through the family photo album for something more amusing.

I came across this, taken in my pre-blogging days and never shared before...

To give context:  We were half way up the Great Orme in Llandudno, it was freezing.  We thought the kids would enjoy the tram ride, but clearly not!


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Why I'm proud to be the mum of a teen...

I know that it might look as if I enjoy more than the odd moan about my teen from time to time (OK so it's all the time), but just recently I've realised that I really quite enjoy having a teenager...

The blog posts I've written about how frustrating I find his habits and behaviour are all still true, but it isn't simply a case of child-shaming for the sake of a few extra page views or a retweet on Twitter.  The reason that I do it is because I love being the mum of a normal teenager.  Really.

The teen boy is now 15 years old.  And, during those 15 years I have been on a steep learning curve as his parent.  To say we've been in some scrapes is an understatement.

At this time of the year I'm particularly reminded of how lucky I am to still be his mum.  The 9th November to be exact.  15 years ago.  It was my fourth wedding anniversary and the first one we spent as a family of three.  The teen boy was a newborn, just four weeks old.  Except we never got to celebrate it.

Instead it was the day the teen became a heart patient - something that changed him forever.  Medical professionals and terminology invaded our lives in a way I never thought possible.  I have written a bit about that before and a guest post over on Little Hearts Big Love about how we found out on that day.  Despite feeling like something of an expert on his congenital heart defect, I'm not going to go over it again.

It suddenly hit me the other week on his birthday, that back then and in the days that followed we had no idea whether he'd live for 15 hours, 15 days or 15 weeks.  It was such a traumatic time, living from day to day and hoping, no praying, that we'd get the chance to be a normal family.  Every time I think about it the feeling of fear still catches me in the throat a bit, it never really leaves.

And yet here he is, my greasy haired, messy bedroomed 15 year old son.  The one that makes jolly good blog fodder from time to time.  It feels like a massive milestone.  He is a credit to the nurses, doctors and surgeons who saved his life.  And to us.

I love him.  I don't say that enough any more.

He used the last of the milk the other morning.  And through gritted teeth (I really wanted a cup of coffee), instead of shouting, I smiled.

I might write a blog later about how much teenagers eat you out of house and home.  Or I might leave it.

Because I feel so grateful that I still can.

I love you, teen.  Even when you drink all the milk...

Monday, 9 November 2015

Amusing things my children have said recently

It's been a good while since I joined in with #FTMOB with Louise over at Little Hearts Big Love.  It's a fab linky that gets you writing about all the funny things your children have said.  I have amassed a few good ones since I last joined in and so I thought I'd do one big post dump kind of thing before I forget them all.  Maybe they will make you all smile as much as they have me.

Firstly, the pre-teen boy, who is now ten years old and in Year 6 at school.  This is his final year of Primary School and I am increasingly reminded that in a year's time I'm going to have three children going to High School - how can that be?!

Having said that, he's still got a bit of growing up to do before then.  On arriving home from school the other day he informed me that he had cut his thumb on a knife at school. "What sort of knife was it?" I asked.  "A cutting knife!" came the reply...  Is there any other sort?  For information it turned out to be a craft knife.

The twins are growing up quickly now too.  They celebrated their sixth birthday last month.  Twin girl is on the one hand, a tantrummy little madam hard work sometimes and on the other, becoming a clever and independent little girl.  She knows what she wants, this one.  At the moment she most wants a handbag in the shape of a fox's head for Christmas (don't ask me why) but it is nice to see that the handbag lovers gene has at least been successfully passed down to the next generation...

She also loves coming to the shops with me.  Doesn't matter what shop it is although Home Bargains is her particular favourite.  In her words "I like Home Bargains Mummy, because it always has exactly what you need."  She's quite right of course ;) *

The teen girl also came out with a unique insight on life recently.  On the way back from school one day she sat in the front seat of my car.  Staring at the dashboard for a second and then touching it she asked me, "Why are the symbols on the buttons raised like that?  Is it like braille so blind people know which buttons to press when they are driving?".  I have no words, readers, no words...

The teen boy keen to strike out and have a bit of independence from me the rest of us, took it upon himself to take the bus to the next town during half term.  Although he'd never done this before, I was quite confident that he'd manage, bearing in mind that the bus passes by right where we live leaving very little room to get things wrong.  He managed it just fine but I couldn't help but laugh at his interpretation of my basic instruction, "just get the same bus back home".  I of course was referring to the number of the bus, not the actual same bus.  He informed me on his return that although it wasn't a double decker with the same driver, it had a number 42 and so he got on and it (amazingly) went the same way back home.

Perhaps it's a good job I'm not taking him to London on the train for Blogfest - I doubt we'd ever get home if we applied his methods!

*  Home Bargains have not in any way shape or form sponsored me to say that, by the way.

Little Hearts, Big Love

Friday, 6 November 2015

First child and last child differences

Like so many families it was back to school this week for us.  Back to school and back to the usual chaos of the morning school run hell.

It was only when I returned from school earlier on this week that I spotted twin boy's book bag still waiting at the bottom of the stairs for him to take to school.  In it were all the things he needed for school that day and his snack for break time.  It was 10.30 am and break had just finished.

Now, had he been my firstborn, my immediate reaction would have been to jump straight into the car and deliver the book bag, while full of apologies that I hadn't done it sooner.  But instead I thought to myself "Well, he'll just have to improvise today".

That is the difference between your first and your last child, that is.  

And, I know now that he will definitely be my last child, not just because I recoil in horror at the thought of any more children, even when my husband jokingly suggests that I might like another baby.  No, my baby making days are done now because I'm finally happy to write it down.

I digress.

Anyway, the whole book bag thing got me thinking about all the stupid things I used to tie myself in knots over do for my eldest without even questioning myself, compared to how lazy laid back I am with the littlest.

1.  Firsts

Firsts are firsts, there's no doubt about it.  The trouble is when you've had first firsts, second firsts, third firsts (oh, you get the gist...) by the time you get to the fifth set of firsts your standards kind of slip a bit.  When teen boy was a baby I had a record book, knew exactly when he first smiled, rolled, crawled, stood and walked and probably could back it up with photographic evidence.  Even my scan photographs with him have been safely preserved in a folder, some we paid extra to have A4 sized versions.  

With my last child (well, children - twins to be exact) I'm not sure I even remember where the scan pictures got to, and all the other milestone moments that should be imprinted on my brain were never so much as written down on the back of an envelope let alone in a fancy book.

2.  Clothes and Shoes

With first children you spend ages planning, choosing and buying outfits.  Then more hours washing them and ironing them.  Worn once?  In the washing machine it goes.  It must be pristine for them to wear.  And Clarks shoes must be replaced every 12 weeks because the lady in the shop told me so, and I am frightened of getting this so wrong that my child's feet might become deformed or something.

Last children not only have the pleasure of their siblings hand me downs, but shoes?  Handed down also (somehow the thought of what might happen to your child's feet as a result of wearing their siblings old shoes has slipped to the back of your mind, despite the warnings of the Clarks lady) and now replaced once a year.

3.  Illness 

Firstborn children have a medicine cabinet dedicated solely to them.  It is furnished with every type of over the counter medicine you can imagine (branded, natch.) in addition to which there is a top of the range Braun thermoscan thermometer just in case.  There are also novelty plasters and one of those cold packs that you put in the fridge for bumps.

Last born children have a packet of plain Elastoplast which only contains the plasters that are a bit too small to be useful, some Tesco own brand Calpol substitute (no spoon) and the thermometer has run out of batteries.

If a first child says they feel a bit sick then they have a day off school. With a last child?  The key criteria for being ill is whether they have a limb missing or not.

4.  School 

First time round schools are researched to find the best one in the area.  You then jump through hoops to make sure your child gets a place.  All uniform is the official stuff, a clean set for every day.  Book bags are emptied every night and forms filled in on time.  Homework is done to the highest standard (that's you, not them, obvs.) and never forgotten.

Last children go to the school that their siblings go to, you don't bother with second or third choices on the application form.  Uniform is the unbranded supermarket stuff and you empty their book bag out when it becomes too heavy to carry.  You are also pretty sure the school have stopped giving homework and reading books.  Or have they...?

5.  Food

When your first child is born you immediately go and buy an Annabel Karmel weaning book.  This becomes your bible and hours are spent puréeing vegetables, noting down which are the most accepted flavour combinations and tailoring every mealtime to their specific requirements.  As they get older, your mealtime repertoire is based solely around the likes and dislikes of your child.

Last children are the reason that baby led weaning was invented (only you didn't realise that it had a name - you've given up puréeing carrots as they seem to manage fine with foods as they are).  As your family grows older you also realise that your youngest child is never quite happy at mealtimes and eats everything begrudgingly - it isn't their favourite.  You tell them this is tough, you are not running a restaurant.

Funnily enough despite these differences, my last child seems to be just as lovely, smiley and happy as my first.  Maybe not tying myself in knots and worrying isn't such a bad thing.

Take the book bag incident for example.  When I picked him up at home time he hadn't even needed it and had shared his sister's snack at break.  

Like I say, he had to improvise.  No big deal.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Don't eat that!

You know the drill.  

It's half term, you've got every single toy known to man out and played with it and then decided that painting might be a good idea instead.  All before 9 am while in your pyjamas.

What about a little snack?  Breakfast was ages ago on account of the fact that you woke everyone up at the crack of dawn.  Wonder what this paint tastes like?

Honestly, I swear I only took my eyes off him for a second.  It's no wonder the teachers need a little break at this time of year is it?

Also, how much longer until I don't have to worry about this kind of stuff anymore?


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Keeping the kids entertained in London

In a few weeks time I'm off down to London for Mumsnet Blogfest (Hooray!).  I can't wait. In the meanwhile, my poor long suffering husband will have to entertain five children without going completely insane.

We have thought about all of us going down to London and making a weekend of it, but how can we keep all of the kids, aged between 6 and 15 years old happy and with plenty to do?

We've taken the family to London before, hit all the major Museums and so I doubt doing this again would offer them anything new.  One place they haven't been to is the RAF Museum in London, and until details of this landed in my inbox last week, I had no idea that such a place even existed.

I've had a quick look at their website, which reminded me that the RAF also have a museum at Cosford which we have been to more than once, and which is fantastic for family groups like ours.  Their London museum also looks superb with plenty to see and do.

My teens and my pre-teen have all been learning about WW1 at school in the past year and the First World War in the Air exhibit would be great for them to look at to help tie all their knowledge of the war together.

WW1 Exhibit

My twins, having just really started to take off with their reading, love looking around anywhere where there is plenty to read about.  There are over 100 aircraft at the museum and so they'd certainly be able to find something that interested them, plus all that exploring would more than likely tire them out! ;)

Did I mention that my husband is a bit of a history buff and loves looking around RAF planes too? Hence our many visits to Cosford and the fact that every time the Vulcan makes a flight he looks up the flight path to see how close it is to our house. *sigh*  Well, there is a Vulcan bomber on site at the museum - perfect!  I bet he wouldn't get much further than that to be honest, although if he did, for the very small price of £8.50 he could even book a place to climb inside a Spitfire cockpit.

Not my husband but Martin Kemp in a Spitfire

See, so much to see and do.  If we were closer it would have been great for this very rainy boring half term we've had this past week.  Did I mention that it is also entirely free to look around too?  Just watching this trailer tired me out!

If you are also looking for something to do in London for the rest of the half term and beyond, do check out the RAF museum website here.

This is a collaborative feature

Friday, 30 October 2015

Halloween Mum Hacks

Try as you might, you just can't avoid Halloween anymore, can you?  Gone are the pre-children days when you could simply pretend that you weren't at home when the trick or treaters came around, and Pinterest boards full of cool decorations and costumes did not even exist.

The problem is that when you've got kids you're kind of duty bound to joining in with the spirit of things (see what I did there?) at this time of year.

Which is great, it can be fun, but the problem is I frequently forget all about it until its too late which disappoints the kids.  How on earth can it be Halloween already?  They've only just gone back to school.


Because of this I have developed another series of mum hacks which means that I can get away with doing almost nothing be all halloween-y at the drop of a hat and look like I'm really organised, and without spending 56 million pounds at Home Bargains to boot.

And, as I know how much you lot love a mum hack, I'm going to share...


We never do trick or treating because who wants to stand outside in the rain on a freezing cold October night while your children beg the neighbours for sweets?  Fortunately my kids are quite OK with the idea of staying inside in the warm too, but they still want to celebrate Halloween.

Sometimes (probably about twice during the time the kids have been growing up if I'm being honest, but in my head it feels like a lot more) we throw ourselves a little Halloween party instead.

Party games can help fill the time and give the impression that I am the fun parent when all I'm really trying to do is get through the job of parenting full stop, so what about a spot of Apple Bobbing?  It's the no stress/mess/noise option that is actually good for your children. 

Just shove a washing up bowl full of water and apples on the floor and watch as they try to get the apples with their teeth.  They can't talk (too busy trying to catch the apples), its easy because everyone has apples at the bottom of the fruit bowl that need using up and, the real genius part - it's part of their five a day!  They think they are getting a fun party game, but really all you've done is shove some forgotten about fruit in water. Genius.

Silence is golden, and part of your five a day...


So, carrying on with the theme of being disorganised last minute here, is it any wonder that you'll have forgotten all about the Halloween costumes too?

Fear not!  You can fix this!

I'm not about to get all Pinterest on you and tell you how to make a Zombie outfit from an old sheet and a bin liner, although if such a thing exists, and I bet it does, please feel free to tweet me so that I can feel really inadequate.  

No, what the true Halloween mum hacker needs is a shop bought witches or skeleton costume, but aren't they expensive?  Chances are you will have looked at them three weeks ago in the shops and decided they cost too much.  I know I did.  

So what do you do?  You wait.  Hold your nerve fellow hacker because as soon as the 31st October rolls around something magical happens in all supermarkets across the land. 

Everything Halloween becomes half price or less.  

This means that you can pick up a witches costume complete with broomstick and hat for the bargain price of 99p.  Size does not matter because there is so much shirring elastic in those things that you can buy several sizes up with it still fitting and keep it for next year too.  You can also recycle a skeleton costume for World Book Day (with added hat) to become Funny Bones (see previous Mum Hacks for details who am I kidding? that's it).

What do you mean, too big?  But it was cheap...


Decorations are key to giving your home that really spooky festive feel.  But what if you don't have any? What if your husband banned you from the delight that is the Home Bargains Halloween aisle on the basis that you have too much tat in the house already?

The one advantage of it being half term around the time of Halloween is that if you are as lazy as me you won't have been bothered had time to dust.  This is fantastic news for the mum hacker in need of decorations.  Didn't you know?  Dust and spiders webs are the latest in cool spooky decorations.  Turns out you don't need to do anything other than let the invertebrates get on with it...

And who can really be bothered with pumpkins?  Such a lot of hard work and then they go rotten.  Why not use any other fruit you have to hand instead?  Bananas?  Oranges?  You've used all the apples up already, (OK so Pinterest says you can make fun edible Jack O' lanterns from peppers but that is a bit too wholesome for my purpose) so just use a Sharpie (the ultimate mum hacker tool IMO, if you don't have one, get one now because they come in handy for all sorts) draw a face on your chosen fruit and save yourself some time.  By doing this you won't risk hacking a fingertip off by accident too.  Sorted.

No fingertips were lost in the making of this pumpki... erm, tangerine.

Handling Trick or Treaters

What about all those annoying kids who persist in bleeding you dry of your precious sweetie stash knock on your door?  I suppose you could get some sweets in for them.  Train your children to answer the door while dressed up and tell them it's another fun Halloween game.  That way you won't need to get off Facebook to answer the door yourself.  

But what if you have a run on trick or treaters and all the good stuff goes?  This is where a cupboard full of those little boxes of raisins (that your own kids refuse to eat) helps.  Save them til last and then wait until a few teenagers in scream masks come round looking for treats.  Offer them the raisins.  You can guarantee that yours will be the one house that nobody will bother with next year, and you'll have gotten shot of the raisin boxes too.  Trick or Treat indeed.  You're welcome.

If everything else fails and it all gets a bit too much...

Have twins.  Well, when I say have twins what I really mean is pretend to have had twins.  Unless you do actually have twins, in which case you can use them to your advantage.  How?  Well, some of our quietest Halloween nights over the years have been when (using that Sharpie again, told you it would come in handy) we've put the following sign on the front door...

Yes, they really are asleep... (but not babies)

But my twins are six years old?  Doesn't matter.  For the purposes of Halloween evening and the constant stream of strangers with kids, they are still newborns and nobody wants to disturb a newborn baby, let alone two, do they?

So there you have it.  My guide to a happy Halloween without actually having to do anything much.

And remember, once you're past this weekend then the festive fun can really start - Black Friday?  *whispers* the C word? kill me now

This time of year is a mum hacker's paradise...

Whatever you are doing this Saturday, have a Hacky Happy Halloween from me :)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Cinderella Effect

What joy to discover recently that my twins really do love to sweep floors, just like Cinderella.  They are quite good at it in fact.

They even argue over who gets to do it.

Of course, it would be cruel of me to try to take advantage of this, wouldn't it?

*gets cup of tea and biscuits and puts feet up for a while*

Honestly, she loved it.

Next week, I plan on teaching them how to clean bathrooms...


Monday, 26 October 2015

Half Term at the House of Twits!

We were asked last week if we'd like to try out a brand new app for mobile devices which is based on the classic Roald Dahl story The Twits.  Having only just finished reading another of Dahl's books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to the twins as a bedtime story, they were very keen to try out the app (and of course to then read The Twits).  The timing was also perfect, with half term on the horizon too!

House of Twits is the second app featuring the gruesome Mr and Mrs Twit to hit both Android and Apple app stores.  It was launched of the 22nd October and follows the success of Roald Dahl's Twit or Miss and has been developed jointly by the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Penguin Random House UK, working with interactive entertainment studio Chunk.

In the app, children are encouraged to get their own back on the horrible couple by tricking either Mr or Mrs Twit (you can choose which one).  They can explore the rooms in their house including the kitchen, where you can feed Mr and Mrs Twit, the living room, where you trick them to wake them up, and even Mr Twit's shed, where you can help him by passing him tools (or trick him with the odd feather duster!).

House of Twits

Aimed at children aged 6-8, this app has kept my twins entertained all weekend (through a rather rainy Saturday morning), and if I'm honest I've really enjoyed having a sneaky go on it myself! (Well, it is my iPad...)

On starting the app the player is guided through each of the rooms where you can trick Mr or Mrs Twit with various games.  The object of which is to earn enough trick points to level them up and unlock more rooms and games.

Feeding Mrs Twit mouldy cornflakes

As you might expect, the games are all based on aspects of the book The Twits, such as scaring the birds away in the Twits' garden before they get stuck to the tree branches and get made into pies!

My twin girl (6) was particularly pleased with this app (couldn't get her off it, in fact) and loved the game where she had to feed Mr Twit the bits from his beard, avoiding the nits (ewwww!).  She managed a very impressive high score of 2,510.  Nobody here is yet to beat her either :)

Not only are the games really good fun but the artwork, which is inspired by the drawings of Quentin Blake, are also really nice to look at.  My daughter instantly recognised the author and story based on the way the app looked alone.

From a parent's point of view, I love that the app draws on so many aspects of The Twits story and that it has given my pair and interest in reading yet another of Roald Dahl's classic books.

I also liked the fact that once the app is downloaded that's it - there are no in-app surprise purchases that I'll be begged to make in order for them to finish the games.

In addition to the app, Penguin Random House also provided us with some downloadable Mr Twit masks and a Pin the Glass Eye on Mrs Twit game, which provided my twins with even more gruesome Twits fun!

Argh!  It's Mr Twit!

Pin the Glass Eye on Mrs Twit


Roald Dahl's House of Twits app is available to purchase on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store now at a cost of £2.99 which I think is very reasonable given the amount of entertainment it has generated for us. You can find out more and purchase the app here.

We were given a copy of the House of Twits app and some downloadable activities for the purpose of this review.  All words and opinions are our own.
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